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Ozzie Apparently Exits Azure

Kathleen Richards, your editor's Framingham office mate and editor extraordinaire for the developer branch of the Redmond Media Group family, posted a little blog item on Tuesday afternoon that caught RCPU's eye.

It seems innocuous enough -- and it might be. On the surface, it's just another Microsoft reorg in which the company is combining its Azure business with its Windows Server and Solutions Group. No big deal, right? Maybe not, but dig this from Kate's blog entry:

"The Windows Azure development team is part of this transition and will no longer report to Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect. Instead, the dev team is part of the new Server and Cloud division headed by Amitabh Srivastava, a senior VP who reports to Muglia."

That's Bob Muglia, head of the server and tools business at Microsoft, who has, to be fair, been a major driver of Azure since the project's inception. But Ozzie has become a public face of Azure recently, as well; he even delivered an Azure-themed keynote at last month's professional developer conference.

So, what does this reorg mean? Is Ozzie off of Azure? It sure looks that way. We at RCPU haven't met Ozzie, but we've heard near-universal praise of him. He's extremely sharp, we hear, and he's got the technical chops and the market savvy to move Microsoft into the next phase of technology -- primarily the cloud.

Remember, Ozzie was supposed to be the next Bill Gates when he arrived at Microsoft in 2005. He holds, after all, Gates' old title of chief software architect. And his Live Mesh idea -- a sort of personal cloud thing, as we understood it -- garnered some interest among partners, users and developers. But Azure appears to have consumed Live Mesh, at least on the enterprise side. And Ozzie's not on Azure anymore, from what we can tell.

So, what gives? What is Ray Ozzie's mission at Microsoft now? And will Azure take a different path without his influence? Muglia is more than capable of running Azure development; we're not questioning his ability at all. We're just kind of wondering why Ozzie was shaping up to be the public face of Azure and now appears to be largely absent from its development process. And we're wondering what Microsoft wants to do with Ozzie -- and vice versa.

This news leaves us with more questions than answers, as Microsoft reorgs often do. In the past, they've tended to work out pretty well. But in the post-Gates era, there's more uncertainty about Redmond's overall business and standing in the industry than ever before. Is there uncertainty inside Microsoft, too? For partners' sake, we hope not -- especially with regard to something as important and all-consuming as Azure. As usual, we'll just have to wait and see.

What's your take on Ray Ozzie and the Azure reorg? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 09, 2009 at 11:56 AM